Vija Vētra dances into her centenary
Lonely and abandoned
Since 1964, Vija Vētra has lived in New York, USA, for the last 50 years in a social apartment in an artists' home in Manhattan, on the banks of the Hudson River. At the invitation of Imants Ziedonis, she visited her beloved Latvia every summer since 1990 for dance masterclasses and concerts, until the pandemic swept the world and this opportunity was interrupted - her last visit to Latvia was in the summer of 2019.
On her birthday, the founders of the Vija Vētra Foundation contacted her to congratulate her with a song and warm greetings from Latvia. "Vija told us that the pandemic is very painful for her, she rarely goes out, doesn't meet many people and feels very lonely and abandoned." Liāna Putniņa, a representative of the Vija Vētra Foundation, told Neatkarīgā.
"She is very happy for every call, every letter she receives. She wished us to celebrate her birthday with a Vija Vētra cake, which she herself invented and which was once made by cake maker Ilze Kupča on her instructions. There has been talk of launching this cake for sale, but the plan has not yet been implemented," says Liāna Putniņa, revealing the three main ingredients of the cake: a meringue base (like Pavlova), cheesecake and chocolate icing on top.
"Vija and I talked about Shrovetide, the coming spring and the sun getting warmer and warmer, and we made plans for the future. We hope that the epidemiological situation will soon improve and we will be able to welcome the esteemed artist in Riga as usual - at the beginning of June, during the lilac blossom season. The Riga Latvian Society House and Guntis Gailītis are already actively planning a concert in Māmuļa with the participation of the jubilarian," says Liāna Putniņa, emphasizing that Vija Vētra, in a telephone conversation, has asked to convey her greetings also to Neatkarīgā, which has been following her creative activities for many years and welcomes her every summer in Riga.
Living off the poor money
When we met in the summer of 2019, Vija Vētra talked a lot about her desire to live in her homeland and reach the end of her long life here, not in a foreign land where she has never felt at home. "It is impossible to put down roots in a foreign land. I don't even try and that's why I come to my homeland every year - to refresh my soul, to gain the strength to live my life," said the legendary stage performer, sadly concluding that the opportunity to live in Latvia has unfortunately not been found for her. Several years ago, she was offered an apartment in Purvciems. "It was a slum, I couldn't accept it! I was expected to put in new windows, a new bathtub, a new stove. What do they think: just because I live in America, I'm a millionaire?! I live off the poor money, that's all I do. And just because I have that poor money, my rent is lower because it is calculated on income," said Vija Vētra, adding that she set aside money each month to save up for plane tickets to and from Latvia.
No complaints about pain
Vija Vētra has repeatedly told Neatkarīgā that she has danced with pneumonia, four months after hip surgery, with an operated knee, and in the summer of 2019, she danced with a bruised shoulder and head. "If you are a dancer in your heart and soul, you have to dance! As long as I can, I will dance!" she always said and never complained about the pain.
"In general, I have to live to at least one hundred and one years, because I have to beat Ēvalds Valters, who lived to be one hundred," Vija Vētra said determinedly in the summer of 2019, without hiding that she also had a plan to leave this world. "Yes, yes. Well, let's not pretend, we're not immortal, we're all going to die! And I've decided how I want it, and I know it will be so! I'll dance, probably in the year of the centenary, one more good show, go backstage and die. The host of the anniversary concert will come on stage and say to the audience, 'Unfortunately Vija Vētra can no longer receive your applause because she has just passed away...' Here you go, the script is ready!" Vija Vētra laughed heartily and said that she would not want to die sitting in a chair or falling out of bed. "It could happen, but no - it's not my time yet. I still have to show myself to the audience, and I have to show myself well!"
Neatkarīgā warmly congratulates the artist on her 99th birthday and looks forward to the lilac blossom season and the opportunity to welcome her back to Riga.
Vija Vētra in the documentary "The World of Vija Vētra":
Greetings from Latvia, wishes for health and joy of dancing can also be sent to Vija Vētra by post:
55 Bethune St Westbeth Apt D718
New York, NY 10014